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Judy Garland: The Secret Life of an American Legend Paperback – June 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786880260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786880263
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,785,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Big, heart-heavy bio of Garland that--though never stylish- -holds throughout. Shipman wrote the huge, chatty film history The Story of Cinema (1984). One wonders, starting out, what new stuff Shipman has dug up. Whole books study passages in Garland's life, such as the making of The Wizard of Oz and of A Star Is Born, and the shooting of her TV series. Must we settle for fresh dirt on her sex life? Yes, her bisexuality takes up a page or two; her husband/director Vincente Minnelli's homosexuality is scanned; and, at one point, we find Garland climbing into the back seat and fellating her gay hairdresser after she's failed to bring her driver to climax by hand. But such ginger-flavored passages are fairly rare. What we really get is the unbelievable downhill slide of a stupendous talent who could reduce seven thousand people at once to sloppy tears, even near her end. At the age of 12, she sang like ``a woman with a heart that had been hurt.'' Though a child, Garland outstripped her two older sisters in their stage act together. One wonderful night as an adult, when she ran out of encores, the audience sang ``Auld Lang Syne'' to her. Garland rises time and again here through death's trapdoor, each resurrection thrilling as she gets back up and rips out her heartstrings. This is a sad story: Pills, pills, pills, from girlhood on. Huge earnings, endless hospitals. Slit wrists, blamed on her mother, and teenage daughter Liza caring for Garland's crumbling ego. Tax problems, quarrels with film and TV studios, broken contracts, cancellations. Then the Big Cancel. If you can take it, it's a great story. (Twenty-four pages of b&w photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book even asserts Judy was bisexual!
Austin Brown
Of course, it would be extraordinarily difficult to tell if it were because the typographical and editing errors are so egregious as to make it almost unreadable.
Graceann Macleod
Of course that was just what she was trying not to do but of course couldn't stop it.
JkHay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is an odd, yet interesting book on the life of Ms. Garland. Considering Mr. Shipman's credentials, it cannot be just dismissed. A large book (515 pages of actual reading is substantial!), I was unable to put it down when I first read it and yet, it speculates so much on an aspect of her personal life, that it really does require a second reading in order to digest all that he claims to be fact. Not that it's a "trash" novel, but it does make a fan of Ms. Garland's stand back and take a look at what it claims to be fact. Still, worth buying and reading, possibly reading more than once.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Holland on August 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To those people who claim that Shipman does indeed hate Judy need to take a closer look. His book is rich in documentation that supports his research. Furthermore, you can telll he was a devoted fan that can still be objective regarding her talent and her misgivings and faults. We have to remember the duress that Judy endured, the people who abandoned her when she most needed help, the promises of the studios to give her time off to replenish her energy and the monstrous effect of Louis B. Mayer. No wonder Liza has problems of her own. She was affected first hand. This review is fair to the artist without tarnishing her talent and accessibility to the public, as well as her warmth. A great read!
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By a viewer on November 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have to go with the general consensus on this biography. Mr. Shipman has his details muddled and inaccurate in many aspects. How he can go into such detail about Judy's private life, sexual deviances, etc. is astonishing....was HE actually present during the actions he describes?? That's the only way he could be so "forthright and honest"....hah!! Also, it seems Mr. Shipman thinks that everyone with whom Judy was involved was homosexual or bisexual. Heck, he goes on to state that nearly everyone in Hollywood is homosexual. Obviously, Mr. Shipman himself would qualify in this category as he seems obssessed with the subject. It is inferred to in every chapter of this non-sensical biography. We know Judy had problems, no one is denying that. Fans can accept the truth about her but have something substantive with which to back up your claims.....not just hearsay. This biography stinks and is an insult to the memory of Judy Garland. As someone else suggested, read "Rainbow...the Stormy Life of Judy Garland"......that is the best Garland biography ever and does not shortchange or mislead the reader in any way!
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Format: Paperback
David Shipman has been described by some who knew him as a man who would always embellish a quote to make it sound worse. With this book he comes off as a man with a chip on his shoulder and preoccupied with what went on in the bedroom. He presents his own opinions and speculation as if it were fact.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Graceann Macleod on April 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
David Shipman is clearly determined to show the seamier side of Judy Garland's life. That she was her own worst enemy is not something that even her most ardent fans can deny, but the nonsense here is downright bewildering. This might have been an interesting read, though it would still need to be taken with a truckload of salt, if it weren't so terribly edited. Whoever worked with Mr. Shipman on editing and proofing this manuscript should never be entrusted with such a task again - nonsensical non-sentences, completely wrong information (Sid Luft lived with Eleanor "Power?" Really? Junior league research would inform one that it was Eleanor "Powell.") Spell-checking isn't enough - it requires word-for-word reading for content and actual skill at editing and proofing. Otherwise a book just becomes a fourth-grader's school report (and one that would get an "F" at that).

Shipman is so focused on Miss Garland's sex life and unpleasant habits that he largely ignores the other side of her persona - she was wickedly funny, often generous, and enormously talented. I've spoken to people who were at the concerts that Shipman trashes, the concerts from her later career, and it seems that they saw entirely different performances from the ones that he describes.

I am not saying that all biographies should focus only on the good. An even-handed biography is the most difficult to write. The temptation to make a saint out of your subject is just as problematic as demonizing her. However, this is not an even-handed book. Of course, it would be extraordinarily difficult to tell if it were because the typographical and editing errors are so egregious as to make it almost unreadable.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "frances1922" on June 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Although this book is well written and endearing, i have readthat shipman wa sued by a few people in contrast to trhe contents. if you aree a judy fan to my extent then you will realise that some of the points in the book are muddled or untrue. It displays a bad example of the relationship between her and her children, which infact is untrue. i would read it if you are a fan, but dont take it as gospel.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Lewis on March 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a fat, nasty book. It's thinly-sourced, but chock full of factual errors that are easily recognizable to any real fan (one small e.g., he claims she got distracted by a heckler and flubbed the introduction to "If Love Were All" in the Carnegie Hall concert....but millions of people know that recording by heart and know she didn't flub it). The worst parts are when the author tries to get into Judy's head and comes up with psychotic and nonsensical speculations about her sex life and motivations -- i.e. declaring that she married Minnelli, a "known" homosexual, only so that she could continue to have affairs with other men "guilt-free." It's crazy and disgusting.
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